Torso of a Woman on a Medallion


Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
LYON, France

She wears an elegant little turban with a feather, and her curly hair—a lock of which is knotted over her forehead—is held back by a hairnet. The elaborate metalwork of a jewel lends a further touch of richness and refinement. Her rounded shoulders, oval full-cheeked face, long neck, tilted head and the movement of her curling feathers trace gentle shapes that echo the curve of the medallion, from which she seems to emerge. On her bare torso is a heavy chain from which hangs a cartouche bearing the date 1532. This sculpture may have adorned the façade of a house in Rue du Collège or the coffered ceiling of a house in Rue des Orfèvres in Vienne (Isère). Torsos of this kind, enclosed in a tondo, were fashionable during the Renaissance and are found on homes in many regions of France, particularly in the Rhône valley. Although the motif originates from Italy, its sobriety and grace are very French and more reminiscent of the style popular in Touraine. Medallions were usually located high up, as can be seen here in the configuration of the relief, which is designed to be seen from below. Is it a portrait or an allegory of feminine beauty? This motif surmounts the entrance to the Palais Saint Pierre, welcoming the visitor with a sweet sensuality.


  • Title: Torso of a Woman on a Medallion
  • Creator: Anonyme
  • Physical Location: Lyon, France
  • Physical Dimensions: H. 60 ; L. 56,5 ; P. 24,5 cm
  • Provenance: Exchanged with the Vienne Museum in 1907
  • Medium: Limestone
  • Rights: Image © Lyon MBA - Photo Alain Basset

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